The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith: Part Four

According to his WWI draft card1, Officer John Marena was based out of Station 10 in Roxbury.  As part of the Historic American Buildings Survey, the Library of Congress holds photographs of the old station building2, which was one of the first municipal buildings constructed after the annexation of Roxbury in 1868.

station 10
Station 10, located at 1170 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury, Massachusetts

The station was located on Columbus Avenue, between the intersection with Tremont Street (William Pynchon Square) and that with Roxbury Street (Hanley Square).3

police station no 10

The station was just under a mile from Lena’s apartment, along Tremont Street and Huntington Avenue.


While police cars were in use in some parts of the country at this time, it is just as likely that Officer Marena might have been on horseback or even on foot.

Perhaps his mode of transportation was the reason that he directed Lena to the City Hospital, rather than taking her there himself.4  She may have taken a taxi or the electric streetcar the two and a half miles to City Hospital.

huntington to hospital

A recording of a streetcar journey through Boston, including part of Huntington Avenue, in 1903 is available to view on YouTube:

It is perhaps more likely that an ambulance was called.  Both the police force and the hospital itself had ambulances available for transport of patients.5

boston city hospital ambulance
“Taking Patient from Ambulance”, ca 1920. Boston City Hospital collection, Collection 7020.001, City of Boston Archives, Boston

Typically, at this period in time, the patient would receive no medical care prior to arrival at the hospital.  Those individuals hired to drive the ambulances were given no medical training.  A simple communication system existed, by which a call was made from the front gate of the hospital as the ambulance arrived.  A doctor would be summoned to meet the incoming ambulance when it pulled up to the building.6

Boston City Hospital, seen below, was built in the early 1860s on the site of the Agricultural Fair Grounds on the South End of Boston.  The location was not ideal, as the land flooded at high tide.  A massive amount of gravel was carted in to the site in order to raise the average ground level by seven feet.7

boston city hospital
Boston City Hospital in 19038

The hospital was originally founded to provide medical care to those stricken by poverty, who could not otherwise afford treatment.  Paying patients were, of course, also accepted.  Semi-private rooms and other services not typically provided by the hospital required payment.  Most patients were housed in wards like that seen below:

female ward
“Female Ward”, Boston City Hospital collection, Collection 7020.001, City of Boston Archives, Boston

It was here, in a ward like this, that Lena likely found herself on the night of September 20, 1917. And here where, no doubt to her great relief, she was informed that her condition was not considered serious.9

1 “U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital image, ( : accessed 5 October 2017), Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Dorchester City, Draft Board 21, John Vernal Marena entry, dated 12 September 1918; citing Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.
2 Cheek, Richard. Police Station No. 10, 1170 Columbus Avenue, Boston, Suffolk County, MA. October 1979. Photograph. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Accessed 3 Oct 2017. <;
3 Bromley, George Washington, and Walter Scott Bromley. Atlas of the City of Boston: Roxbury. G.W. Bromley and Co., 1915.
4 “Lena Smith, Discouraged, Takes Poison Tablets”, Boston Daily Globe, 21 Sep 1917, p 4 col 2.
5 “A History of the Boston City Hospital from its Foundation Until 1904”. Boston: Municipal Printing Office, 1906.
6 Weaver, Jay. “The Origins of the City of Boston Ambulance Service.” 13 Oct 2013. <;
7 “A History of the Boston City Hospital”.
8 E. Chickering & Co. Boston City Hospital, Harrison Ave., Boston, Mass. 1903. Photograph. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Accessed 5 Oct 2017. <;
9 “Lena Smith, Discouraged, Takes Poison Tablets”.


Indexing: Wills of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1853

If you need help navigating to the Pennsylvania probate records on FamilySearch, click here for guidance.

Today’s data is from “Wills 1839-1870 vol 3-5”. Check the first column of the table below for the image number. Type it into the box near the top of the page on FamilySearch (Image __ of 701) to find the desired image.

203 James B. Baird Derry 18 Jan 1853
204 John White Derry 31 Jan 1853
Robert Brown Borough of Greensburg 8 Feb 1853
205 Andrew Biggs Sewickley 11 Feb 1853
206 William Masters Franklin 19 Feb 1853
207 James Bell Derry 21 Feb 1853
Thomas Trimble Fairfield 22 Feb 1853
208 Elizabeth Brandt Ligonier 21 Feb 1853
Robert Baxter Unity 22 Feb 1853
209 Cadwallader McBurney Fairfield 1 Mar 1853
210 John Ogden 1 Mar 1853
Jesse Clements or Clemants Washington 8 Mar 1853
211 Henry Lowey 10 Mar 1853
Samuel Moorhead Derry 10 Mar 1853
George Darr Rostraver 15 Mar 1853
212 Samuel McCutcheon Franklin 15 Mar 1853
John Taylor Borough of Greensburg 26 Mar 1853
213 Samuel Reynolds Derry 20 Apr 1853
Jacob Porch 2[5?] Apr 1853
214 John Campbell Derry 6 May 1853
James Mechesney Unity 9 May 1853
215 Jonathan Mossholder Derry 17 May 1853
216 Martha Hissem Rostraver 18 May 1853
William King Donegal 24 May 1853
Sarah McClanahan village of Madison 23 May 1853
217 Margaret Jamison Unity 28 May 1853
Nathaniel T Hurst Mt Pleasant 20 Jun 1853
Isabella McLelland Borough of Greensburg 15 Jun 1853
218 Rachel Kilgore Mt Pleasant 21 Jun 1853
Samuel McDonald Fairfield 5 Jul 1853
Andrew Crise or Cruse South Huntingdon 9 Jul 1853
219 Susanna Newill Mt Pleasant 9 Jul 1853
William Harrold North Huntingdon 11 Jul 1853
Constantine Johnson Derry 14 Jul 1853
220 William Marsh Sewickley 16 Jul 1853
David Hepler Sewickley 1 Aug 1853
Thomas S Gormley Derry 23 Aug 1853
221 George Miller Derry 26 Aug 1853
Franklin Culbertson Derry 26 Aug 1853
William Patrick 30 Aug 1853
222 Ann Larimer North Huntingdon 10 Sep 1853
Joseph Hebrank borough of Adamsburg 21 Sep 1853
Louisa Arbaugh Ligonier 24 Sep 1853
223 Joseph Erwin or Irvin Washington 30 Sep 1853
Joseph Altman Hempfield 1 Oct 1853
Michael Siegfried Unity 12 Oct 1853
224 Jacob Felgar or Felger East Huntingdon 13 Oct 1853
226 Jesse Miller Washington 18 Oct 1853
Selden or Seldon King Hempfield 4 Nov 1853
Ludwick Felger or Felgar Donegal 21 Nov 1853
227 Kezia Berkhamer Rostraver 22 Nov 1853
Elizabeth Thompson Rostraver 23 Aug 1853
Jane Baxter 28 Nov 1853
228 Matthew Rowan North Huntingdon 14 Dec 1853
229 John Points Derry 27 Dec 1853

This also being the end of Vol. 3, several codicils were appended:

230 Bela Smith 29 Jun 1836
Thomas Dunlap
John Johnston 3 Apr 1840

The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith: Part Three

Lena’s death record, seen below, listed her address as 873 Huntington Avenue.

lena smith death record

My sister and her husband, who live in Boston, were kind enough to visit the location so I could get a better idea of the surroundings.  The building in which Lena lived is still standing.  In 1917, the entrance was located within the lighter colored frame below:

873 huntington avenue

The entrances to both 873 and 877 have been closed off to create more living space.  Only a central door numbered 875 exists today, as seen in the following video (873 is on the right as the camera pans over the building):

It was from this doorway that, on the night of September 20, 1917, Lena burst forth:

About 10 o’clock last night Miss Lena Smith, aged 23, rushed from her room at 873 Huntington av, Roxbury, and stopped patrolman John Marena, exclaiming that she had swallowed three poison tablets.

Next Time: The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith: Part Four

The Family Photo Album: The Family of G.H. Smith, ca. 1902

home of GH Smith

George Henry and Mary Lucinda (Rauch) Smith and their children, about 1902.  From L to R: Clara Viola Smith, Wilhelmina “Minnie” Smith, mother Mary Lucinda (Rauch) Smith holding baby Harvey Smith, Dan Smith, Harry Smith, Mary Magdalena “Lena” Smith and father George Henry Smith.

The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith, Part Two

What was Lena doing in Boston?  Unfortunately, this was not handed down as part of the family story.  Some speculation is possible, at least.

Lena seems to have been quite an intrepid young woman.  Having grown up in small town Ohio, she traveled nearly 800 miles to the brand new world of golden-age Boston in order to forge her own way.  Perhaps, like so many of us in our teenage years, she chafed under the perceived dictatorial rule of her parents and stifling expectations of the community in which she had grown to adulthood.  Maybe she was attracted by the bright lights of the big city.  She might even have traveled to further her education, though options were somewhat limited for those of her sex at the time.

Even her hairstyle (seen here) can be viewed as an indication of the kind of young lady she was.  Short hair on a woman was far from the norm.  In fact, it was considered to be less of a fashion statement and more of a political one.

In a syndicated article that appeared in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on 27 March 1916, journalist Nixola Greeley-Smith documented the movement toward short hair for women:

Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman has called public attention to the fact that more and more women are cutting their hair short after the manner of men. “It was not the Lord who gave men short hair,” observed Mrs. Gilman, in ridiculing man’s claim to the exclusive privilege, “it was the scissors.”

“Men have a habit of seizing upon everything comfortable and calling it masculine. They stole women’s right to short hair as they stole her right to wear trousers…and as they stole her right to the vote.”1

This association of bobbed hair with women’s suffrage makes repeated appearances in newspapers across the country, including in an article published in the Sikeston Standard (Sikeston, Missouri) in March, 1917:


Woman Displays Clipped Locks At Headquarters Of Congressional Union.

Washington, D. C., March 20.–For many years the lobby in Washington was noted for the short haired women and long-haired men, who frequented the corridors of the Capitol and tried to put through all kinds of freak legislation. It seems now as if the short-haired woman, at least, was about to return. The fashion was started at the headquarters of the Congressional Union, than which there is no more vigorous lobby anywhere, when Mrs. Jessie Hardy Stubbs Mackaye took off her hat with a flourish and disclosed thick clipped black locks, curling a la Mrs. Vernon Castle about her neck and ears.

The locks were amputated, it was explained, because in this shape it is not only easier to manage, but more sanitary and sensible than the long, hair-pinned locks which heretofore have been considered the crowning glory of woman, save in the ranks of the old-time lobbyists like Dr. Mary Walker, who not only have worn short hair for many years, but has worn trousers as well.

It was said at Congressional Union headquarters that more than fifty prominent suffragists were in favor of the new hair cut, provided proper dispensations from their husbands were forthcoming. However, Mrs. Mackaye was still alone in her bobbed-hair glory tonight.2

All of this makes me very curious to know whether Lena was, in fact, involved in the women’s suffrage movement.  One way or another, she was likely quite foreward-thinking and obviously brave enough to sport her short hairstyle regardless of the opinions of those around her.

Do any of you out there know whether there are resources I might use to find out if Lena was a suffragette in Boston?

Next Time: The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith: Part Three


1 Greeley-Smith, Nixola. “Short Hair for Women! The Slogan Now; Many Lead in New Fashion,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, IN), 27 Mar 1916, p 7 col 5.
2 “Suffragettes Cut Hair,” Sikeston Standard (Sikeston, MO), 23 Mar 1917, p 8 col 7.

Indexing: Wills of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1852

If you need help navigating to the Pennsylvania probate records on FamilySearch, click here for guidance.

Today’s data is from “Wills 1839-1870 vol 3-5”. Check the first column of the table below for the image number. Type it into the box near the top of the page on FamilySearch (Image __ of 701) to find the desired image.


Image Number First Name Last Name Township Date Proved
180 Joseph A Hisam Rostraver 20 Jan 1852
Alexander Culbertson Unity 23 Jan 1852
Daniel Tarr South Huntingdon 26 Jan 1852
181 William S Robison 16 Feb 1852
Phebe Donald Franklin 17 Dec 1852
Philip Trout Mt Pleasant 2 Feb 1852
182 John Chambers Pleasant Unity 3 Feb 1852
183 John Duff North Huntingdon 5 Feb 1852
John G Strouble Sewickley 17 Feb 1852
James Jr Stewart Salem 25 Feb 1852
Samuel Irwin North Huntingdon 3 Apr 1852
184 William Reynolds Mt Pleasant 6 Mar 1852
186 Margaret Altman Hempfield 20 Mar 1852
Abraham Ebersole Unity 23 Mar 1852
187 William Sr. Kennedy Allegheny 23 Mar 1852
William Jack Hempfield 10 Apr 1852
188 Hannah Snyder East Huntingdon 10 Apr 1852
189 Andrew Boyer 13 Apr 1852
Rosanna Stewart North Huntingdon 29 Apr 1852
Richard Coulter Borough of Greensburg 30 Apr 1852
190 Alexander Hunter Donegal 15 May 1852
Martha Benninger 17 May 1852
Peter Ruffner or Roofner Hempfield 19 May 1852
191 John Sloan Salem 24 May 1852
James Nelson Donegal 25 May 1852
192 Lavina or Lavinia Culbertson Unity 1 Jun 1852
James McIntyre or McIntire 16 Jun 1852
Sarah Rainey or Hill Salem 21 Jun 1852
193 Jacob Kester East Huntingdon 3 Jul 1852
William Hindman 7 Jul 1852
John Laffer
194 Chauncey F Lichtenberger town of Mt Pleasant 8 Jul 1852
Simon H Drum Springfield, Clark, Ohio 3 Aug 1852
195 David Sr. Shirey Unity 5 Aug 1852
Martin Phillippi Ligonier 23 Aug 1852
196 Charles Bovard Loyalhanna 23 Aug 1852
William H King North Huntingdon 3 Sep 1852
197 William Smith Derry 6 Sep 1852
198 Joseph Smith South Huntingdon 23 Sep 1852
Isaac Hugus town of New Salem 27 Sep 1852
Jesse Sr. Kilgore Mt Pleasant 4 Oct 1852
199 John Reeger Allegheny 4 Oct 1852
200 Robert Walker Washington 6 Oct 1852
John Fried South Huntingdon 19 Oct 1852
Abraham Blythstone or Blystone East Huntingdon 20 Oct 1852
201 Agnes or Nancy George North Huntingdon 28 Oct 1852
David Bell North Huntingdon 29 Oct 1852
Wilson Jack Allegheny 10 Nov 1852
William Morrison Allegheny 11 Nov 1852
202 Elizabeth Steel Fairfield 22 Nov 1852
Michael Kunkle Hempfield 23 Nov 1852
203 Mary Ann Giffen Freeport, Armstrong, PA 8 Dec 1852
Barbara Mericle Unity 22 Dec 1852

Stop the Presses!: The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith

I had initially scheduled this week’s posts to continue the Stanley saga, but I think it’s important to switch my focus for a short time.  Today, September 26, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Stanley’s sister, Lena.


Mary Magdalena Smith, known by friends and family alike as Lena, was born in 1895.  She was the fourth consecutive daughter born to her parents, George Henry and Mary Lucinda (Rauch) Smith.  By all accounts, Lena and her two surviving older sisters, Clara and Minnie, were extremely close.

As a result, her death at the age of 22 came as a tremendous, devastating shock to her sisters.  When I first started researching our family tree as a teenager, my grandma Lucia, Clara’s daughter, told me her story.

According to Grandma, Lena had moved from small town Ohio to Boston in her late teens.  While there, she became involved with a young man from a prominent family who did not approve of their relationship.  What happened next was a mystery.  Suddenly Lena turned up dead.  Lena’s father and brothers-in-law traveled to Boston to collect her body and bring it home for burial in the family plot.

It seemed that perhaps some foul play had been involved in Lena’s death.  Grandma wondered whether the family had arranged to have her put out of the way.

Considering that my grandmother wasn’t born until six years after Lena’s death, this story had clearly made the rounds in the family a time or two.  Clara probably spent the rest of her life wondering what had happened to her beloved sister.  Certainly Grandma was keen to know whether this was a mystery that might be solved.

Several times over the years, I began searching for Lena.  But you know how genealogy is.  There are so many amazing, interesting things to discover.  It is so easy to get diverted and end up off down the rabbit hole!  And so I had practically forgotten about Lena–until last week, that is.

I was chatting to a Smith cousin (Hi Cheryl!) when it occurred to me to ask her whether she had ever heard Lena’s tale.  After all, her grandfather was one of Lena’s siblings.  She hadn’t, but just telling the story again lit a fire under my rear end.

I searched once more for her death certificate and this time, I hit paydirt!

Next Time: The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith, Part Two